Toronto: Macmillan, 1923. First edition, only printing. Hardcover. This is a full set of Canadian first editions of Churchill's acclaimed history of the First World War, titled The World Crisis. Churchill played a critical, controversial, and varied role in the First World War and his remarkable experience underpins his epic, six-volume history of the conflict, published between 1923 and 1931. The Canadian issue of Churchill's World Crisis was published in Canada from the American (true first edition) plates and is very similar in appearance, with nearly identical bindings apart from “Macmillan” instead of “Scribners” on the lower spines and of course the Canadian publisher on the title pages. Canadian editions are considerably scarcer than either their British or U.S. first edition counterparts. Assembling a full set of Canadian first editions has become quite challenging.
This set features volumes varying from very good plus to merely good condition. All six volumes are original and unrestored with contents that show occasional age-toning, but no spotting. Like its U.S. counterpart, the Canadian first edition of Volume I proved quite susceptible to spine sunning and blackening of the gilt. This Canadian volume shows fading on both the spine and front cover, but the spine gilt has not blackened. The binding is a bit tender, with endpapers split at the pastedown gutter, but the mull beneath is intact. The rest of the bindings in the set are square and tight with only minor wear to extremities, with some sunning to the 1915 and The Aftermath spines and some dark staining to the unfaded spine of The Unknown War. All photographic plates are intact in The Unknown War (the only illustrated volume), as is the folding color map at page 388.
Ownership marks in the set are as follows: Volume I has a previous owner name and address (intriguingly for this Canadian edition a “London” address) in pencil on the first free endpaper dated “1925”. The second 1916-1918 volume has a tiny Toronto bookseller ink stamp on the lower left corner of the front free endpaper. Laid in at the same endpaper is a 1927 newspaper clipping review of a book titled “The Truth About Jutland” by Admiral J. E. T. Harper. The Aftermath has a previous owner bookplate affixed to the front pastedown and the same owner’s name inked at the upper right corner of the front pastedown. The Unknown War has a tiny Toronto bookseller ink stamp on the lower left of the front free endpaper and an inked previous owner name on the upper left of the front free endpaper.
Churchill was in a special position to write the history of the First World War, which nearly cost him both his political career and his corporeal life. First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 until 1915, after the Dardanelles disaster, Churchill was scapegoated and forced to resign. He spent political exile as a lieutenant colonel of a battalion in the trenches. Before war's end, Churchill was exonerated and rejoined the Government, foreshadowing the political isolation and restoration he would experience nearly two decades later leading up to the Second World War. Despite Churchill's political recovery, the stigma of the Dardanelles would linger. Hence Churchill had more than just literary and financial compulsion to write his history.
Churchill titled his history The World Crisis, which was originally published in six volumes between 1923 and 1931. Frederick Woods wrote: "The volumes contain some of Churchill's finest writing, weaving the many threads together with majestic ease, describing the massive battles in terms which fitly combine relish of the literary challenge with an awareness of the sombre tragedy of the events."
Reference: Cohen A69.3, Woods/ICS A31(ac), Langworth p.109. Item #004976